Crazy Brave

A Memoir

A “raw and honest” (Los Angeles Review of Books) memoir from the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States.

Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo

In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world. Narrating the complexities of betrayal and love, Crazy Brave is a haunting, visionary memoir about family and the breaking apart necessary in finding a voice.

Praise for Crazy Brave

“A saga about the survival of spirituality and creativity in the face of generations of racism, dispossession, and familial dysfunction…Fantastic, terrible and beautiful.”

—Rebecca Steinitz, Boston Globe

“Joy Harjo has always been able to see with more than her eyes. Her writing is a testament to this gift. Her memoir honors her own journey as well as those who fell along the wayside. Her hero’s journey is a gift for all those struggling to make their way.”

—Sandra Cisneros

“Stirring…In her harrowing and ultimately hopeful story, Harjo allows the reader to know her intimately, and we are enriched by her honesty.”


“Gritty and mystical…Reads like a sacred prayer.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Harjo allows the reader to know her intimately, and we are enriched by her honesty.”


“Exquisite…A must-read for anyone who appreciates the healing power of literature.”


“Dances into hard truth. [Harjo’s] fine crafting of words and deft braiding of mythic visions throughout the text almost—almost—draw you past the truth of her personal story. That story is harsh and scary, mystical and loving, and, ultimately, triumphant and healing.”

Indian Country

“A must-read for her fans and a fascinating door into her world for those new to her work.”

—Elizabeth Wilkinson, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Joy Harjo is a giant-hearted, gorgeous, and glorious gift to the world. Her belief in art, in spirit, is so powerful, it can’t help but spill over to us—lucky readers. Wildly passionate and honest as a hound, Crazy Brave invites us into a whole new way of seeing—deeper, less cluttered, and vastly more courageous than our own. It’s a book for people who want to re-fall in love with the world.”

—Pam Houston

Crazy Brave Media: Interviews, Reviews, Articles

January 30, 2014, Literary Mama
Crazy Brave: An Interview with Joy Harjo and Review of Her New Memoir

It struck me at the time that Harjo’s poet­ry in par­tic­u­lar touched some­thing more emo­tion­al than intel­lect-cen­tered acad­eme could grasp … Read Review

January 30, 2014, Yes Magazine
Yes Magazine Book Review: Joy Harjo’s “Crazy Brave”

Native Amer­i­can poet Joy Har­jo declares, I was not brave.” But her mem­oir is a gift that urges us to enlist our own crazy brav­ery to step through the door­ways in our lives.Read Review

January 30, 2014

Ini­ti­a­tions: A review of Crazy Brave by Pam Uschuk

Crazy Brave is one of most inven­tive mem­oirs I’ve ever read. It is as intense­ly engross­ing as it is poignant. It also has a sense of humor. Since Har­jo is a…

January 30, 2014, Book Browse
Book Browse Review

In this tran­scen­dent mem­oir, ground­ed in trib­al myth and ances­try, music and poet­ry, Joy Har­jo, one of our lead­ing Native Amer­i­can voic­es, details her jour­ney to becom­ing a poet.Read Review

January 30, 2014
January 30, 2014
Alabama’s Writer’s Forum

When most Alaba­ma read­ers think of Alaba­ma writ­ers, Native Amer­i­can — or Amer­i­can Indi­an as Joy Har­jo calls her­self — aren’t the first writ­ers who come to mind, yet Joy Har­jo attrib­ut­es what she con­sid­ers to be three of the most impor­tant traits of…

January 30, 2014
Native People’s Review of Crazy Brave

One of Native America’s strongest voic­es, poet and musi­cian Joy Har­jo has final­ly told her own sto­ry in this poet­ic mem­oir. Like her rich poet­ry, this book brims with lyri­cal word pic­tures, glimpses of Harjo’s child­hood and time in Indian…

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